Failing to offer some employees the opportunity to participate in training can mean a possible lawsuit. But that’s only true if the employee who missed out on the training opportunity let it be known that he was interested.
If you hear that an employee was disappointed about not being trained, be sure to reach out next time. That way, you can show you didn’t mean to exclude.
Recent case: Steven, who is black, was upset when he was told to take down a Barack Obama souvenir he put on his wall after the 2008 presidential election. He took the request as evidence of possible racial hostility.
A year later, he sued over not having been invited to a training session, claiming the reason was race discrimination. He said he peeked into the training room and saw no black faces.
But his supervisor told Steven he didn’t know Steven was interested and made sure to invite him for the next session.
The court tossed out Steven’s lawsuit. It reasoned that if a supervisor doesn’t know a subordinate wants training, he can’t be faulted for not offering it. On the other hand, after Steven made it known he wanted the opportunity, it was offered.
That helped convince the court that, despite Steven’s suspicions, no discrimination was afoot. (Overs v. General Dynamics, No. 6:11-CV-217, MD FL, 2012)
Advice: Be sure your training announcements specify prerequisites and explain how to request participation.
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